Everything seems better after a good night’s sleep, doesn’t it?
In helping my patients deal with stress, anxiety, depression, or low energy levels, my first goal is always to try to improve their quality of sleep. It’s a great quick fix to feeling better.
The key question is this: do you feel rested or tired when you get up? When we get enough good-quality sleep, we should ideally wake up feeling refreshed.
Think of a time in your life when you did not sleep well for a few days. Were you more easily stressed? Maybe you were irritable or easily angered. For sure, your energy levels were down and likely your mood as well.
Now, think of a time in your life when you slept well and woke up with an abundance of energy. Undoubtedly, the world looked brighter and you dealt with people in a friendlier manner, and probably felt stress-free.
That’s the feeling we’re looking for! Here are eight things you can do to make your sleep more replenishing.
How You Can Sleep Well At Night
1. Make your bedroom primarily a place for sleeping.
It’s not a good idea to use your bed for paying bills, doing work, watching TV, etc.
Help your body recognize that this is a place for rest or intimacy. Make sure your room is well ventilated and the temperature consistent. And try to keep it quiet. You can use a fan or a “white noise” machine to help block outside noises.
2. Incorporate bedtime rituals.
Listening to soft music or sipping a cup of herbal tea cues your body that it’s time to slow down and begin to prepare for sleep.
Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on the weekends. Keeping a regular schedule will help your body expect sleep at the same time each day, leading to a good night’s sleep.
Don’t oversleep to make up for a poor night’s sleep–doing that for even a couple of days can reset your body clock and make it hard for you to get to sleep at night.
3. Relax for a while before going to bed.
Spending quiet time can make falling asleep easier.
This may include meditation, relaxation and/or breathing exercises, or taking a warm bath. Try listening to recorded relaxation or guided-imagery programs.
4. Get out of bed if unable to sleep.
Don’t lie in bed awake. Go into another room and do something relaxing until you feel sleepy.
Worrying about falling asleep actually keeps many people awake!
5. Don’t do anything stimulating.
Don’t read anything job related or watch a stimulating TV program (commercials and news shows tend to increase alertness).
6. Don’t expose yourself to light.
Pull down the shades. Light gives cues to your brain that it’s time to wake up.
For a good night’s sleep, if you have blinking lights on your phone, TV, alarm clock, or other devices, turn them off or cover the lights so the room is completely dark.
7. Perform progressive relaxation.
This technique is based on a very simple procedure of comparing tension to relaxation.
Clench one set of muscles for one to two seconds, starting with your neck and shoulders, then relax, then move down to the next set of muscle groups, until you have relaxed all muscles. ending with your feet and toes.
Then repeat two or three times until you go to sleep.
8. Consider changing your bedtime.
If you’re experiencing sleeplessness or insomnia consistently, think about going to bed later so the time you spend in bed is spent sleeping.
If you’re only getting five hours of sleep at night, figure out what time you need to get up and subtract five hours (for example, if you want to get up at 6:00 am, go to bed at 1:00 am).
This may seem counterproductive, and you may be depriving yourself of some sleep at first, but it can help train your body to sleep consistently while in bed.
Hopefully, you will be able to start going to bed earlier and earlier and still be able to sleep through the night.
Any one of these tips might be the trick that flips your sleep switch, but try them in combination. You’ll be feeling a whole lot better when you wake up from that good night’s sleep!
* * * * *
Michael T. Murray ND is a naturopathic physician regarded as one of the world’s top authorities on natural medicine. An educator, lecturer, researcher, and health food industry consultant, he is the author of more than 30 books, including his newest book, The Complete Book of Juicing, Revised and Updated: Your Delicious Guide to Youthful Vitality (Clarkson Potter, 2014). Sign up for the Weekly Natural Facts newsletter and receive a free copy of Dr. Murray’s new ebook.
Photo by Martin Neuhof | martin-neuhof.com